Gov’t to start paying Elderly People in January 2020

Former gender minister Janat Mukwaya (sitting, left) with elderly beneficiaries in Kumi district. Courtesy photo By New Vision

The Government has scheduled a verification exercise of all older persons aged 80 years and above, starting this January.

The exercise, according to the gender ministry, will take place in 73 districts, plus Kampala. The exercise is in preparation for a national roll-out of the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE).

SAGE is already being implemented in 61 districts across the country. The programme is part of the Expanding Social Protection (ESP) programme implemented by the gender ministry and it provides a monthly grant of sh25,000 per older person, to support their welfare.

According to a statement issued by the SAGE secretariat under the gender ministry on Friday, payments of new beneficiaries in new districts will take place between January and March 2020.

Simon Omoding, the ESP communications advisor at the gender ministry, said: “after the verification, registration and enrolment of the elderly in the 73 districts and Kampala, the total benefiting districts will be 134.”

The verification exercise kicks off early January and ends in February. The Government took a decision to roll out the SAGE programme to all districts in the country, starting this financial year.

The countrywide roll-out is anticipated to add over 200,000 beneficiaries on the 167,000, who are already on the scheme. According to the Government, SAGE national roll-out will lift over 1.2 million older persons and their households out of abject poverty.

The Vice-President, Edward Ssekandi, launched the roll-out on October 1, while presiding over the International Older Persons’ Day celebrations in Kumi district. Although the decision was to cover people who are 80 years old and above, the Government plans to gradually bring down the age cap of the beneficiaries to 65 and 60 for Karamoja, within the next three years.

At the same time, all older persons already on the programme since 2010 will be kept, even if they are younger than 80 years, the ministry stated. SAGE was first implemented in the 15 pilot districts — Amudat, Apac, Kaberamaido, Katakwi, Kiboga, Kole, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Napak, Nebbi, Yumbe and Zombo

According to the Government, SAGE national roll-out will lift over 1.2 million older persons and their households out of abject poverty. years before 45 more districts were added.

The verification exercise, Omoding said, will be conducted by the ministries of gender and public service, in coordination with the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).

“The beginning point is that we shall go to the NIRA list of all people who have registered for the national IDs and extract everybody who is 80 years old and above. Then the list will be sent to the districts, sub-counties and the parishes for verification,” Omoding said.

The purpose of the verification exercise, Omoding said, would be to establish whether those people are still alive or dead.

“We shall also need to be sure that there was no mistake in capturing their age and we shall have to look at all of them in the presence of the community members,” he said.

“We shall also cross-check to ensure that the persons are not pensioners. That is why the roll list will be shared with the Ministry of Public Service, to help us identify those ones who are on their pensioners’ list so that they are removed.”

The verified list, according to Omoding, will be generated and then handed over to the payment service provider (PostBank), who will invite beneficiaries at either sub-county or parish headquarters, to capture their biometric data.

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Muwanga Ronald is editor in chief of the UGANDANZ news website. He was formerly editorial director of UGANDANZ.COM, overseeing the publication’s digital operations. Before joining UGANDANZ in December 2018, Ronald was managing editor of NILE HOST In 2014, he was a finalist for the UJA Awards for Young Journalists for his reporting on the women's emancipation. Under his leadership NILE HOST won Media Industry Newsletter's Best of the Web award in 2018. A graduate of Makerere University, Ronald speaks Luganda and French and lives in Kampala with his wife and two children.